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Negligent Driving


Andrew Fraser

Under section 6 of the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act it is an offence in the ACT to drive a motor vehicle negligently on a road or a road related area.

There is quite a low threshold for proving negligent driving and it requires a subjective judgment. In determining whether or not a person was driving negligently, the court must take into account the nature, condition and use of the area, as well as the amount of traffic that would be expected to be on that area at that time.

There are three charges of negligent driving:

  1. Negligent driving not occasioning death or grievous bodily harm;
  2. Negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm;
  3. Negligent driving occasioning death.

The first is usually dealt with by way of a traffic infringement notice. As an example, the infringement may be issued in response to a minor crash to any or all of the vehicles involved. The possible examples of negligent driving are as broad as your imagination. Save where a specific offence occurs, negligent driving will be charged.

Negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm

If you have been in a motor vehicle accident where someone has been injured you may be at risk of being charged with this offence. The seriousness of any injury suffered will determine whether you will be charged under this section.

Grievous bodily harm is defined by the Court to mean a really serious injury. For example, a minor cut or bruise would not be considered grievous bodily harm. A broken bone may constitute grievous bodily harm.

As this is seen to be a serious offence, due to the nature of injury caused to another person, it is important that you seek legal advice as soon as possible if you believe you may be charged.

If you are found guilty of this offence, the starting point at sentencing is for the Court to record a conviction, impose a fine and a disqualification period. The maximum fine, if you are convicted, is 100 penalty units. The Court also has the option to impose a term of imprisonment up to one year.

If this is a first offence, the automatic period of disqualification is three months. If this is a repeat offence, the automatic period of disqualification is twelve months however the Court has the discretion to impose a lengthier period of disqualification.

Regardless of how bad your traffic record is the court has discretion whether or not to record a conviction against you for the offence. If the court decides not to record a conviction, you will not be disqualified from driving. Section 17 of the Crimes (Sentencing) Act allows a court that finds a person guilty of an offence the discretion not to impose a conviction against them.

Negligent driving occasioning death

If you have been in a motor vehicle accident that caused the death of another person, you are at risk of being charged with this offence. This is a serious charge and it is imperative that you seek legal advice as soon as possible after the collision, even before you are charged.

If you are found guilty of this offence, the starting point is for the Court to record a conviction, impose a fine and a disqualification period. The maximum fine if you are convicted is 200 penalty units. The Court also has the option to impose a term of imprisonment up to two years.

If this is a first offence, the automatic period of disqualification is three months. If this is a repeat offence, the automatic period of disqualification is twelve months however the Court has the discretion to impose a lengthier period of disqualification.


where to next?

In Canberra, traffic offences are treated seriously. Therefore, it is important to get competent legal advice as early as possible, whether you have received a penalty notice, had your licence suspended or been charged with a serious offence. Our lawyers are highly experienced and understand the difficulties you face without a licence. We can guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

Why Choose Armstrong Legal?

Contact Armstrong Legal:
Canberra: (02) 6288 1100
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